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Abuja and challenges of infrastructure

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TRULY, before any settlement, town or community could be termed developed, such must have a surfeit of infrastructural facilities in place. Putting the same issue in different words, a city devoid of infrastructure is like an Oba (king) without a crown. This explains why experts have identified infrastructure deficit as a major constraint to Nigeria’s development. So, to address this problem, successive governments had introduced various policies aimed at bridging the gap.

That is the case with the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, where the administration of Senator Bala Mohammed has been working assiduously since 2010 to provide basic infrastructure for the territory. And boy! He is making a huge success of it. These projects have in turn created employment opportunities for thousands of Nigerians.

The world over, infrastructure projects are by their nature, social investments, especially in developing climes like ours. That is why the World Bank’s estimate that African governments face infrastructure investment deficit of $93billion annually calls for serious concern from all and sundry.

To resolve this issue, some stakeholders  have canvassed for a speedy passage of  the “Development  Planning and Project Continuity  Bill” currently before the National Assembly,  which would make it mandatory for every government in Nigeria to continue the implementation of projects initiated by the past administration(s).

When passed into law, the Bill would also make development planning compulsory for all tiers of government in Nigeria as a means of creating coherence and measurable targets in developmental initiatives by all governments to facilitate the expeditious achievement of the goals set out by government.

In the FCT, in order to make life meaningful for the citizenry, the Bala Mohammed-led administration has been working round-the-clock to provide roads, bridges, sewages, potable water, housing, schools and hospitals for both indigenes and residents of the nation’s capital city. In this regard, the entire FCT has been divided into districts, which have also been grouped into development phases to wit: phases 1 to 4. These are to make provision of these essential facilities easier, orderly and faster.

Phase 1 district has all the districts with the exception of Guzape fully developed with infrastructure. The districts include Asokoro district (Cadastral Zone A04); Central Business (Cadastral A04); Garki 1 District (Cadastral Zone A03), Guzape Cadastral Zone A09); Maitama District (Cadastral Zone A05 and AO6); Wuse District (Cadastral Zone AO3) and Wuse 11 District (Cadastral Zone AO3).

Similarly, Phase 2, which has most of the districts developed include: Durumi, Utako, Jabi, Wuye, Kado, Mabuchi, Katampe (& Katampe Ext), Jahi, Dakibiya, Kaura, Duboyi, Gaduwa and Dutse.

Phase 3 has Gwarimpa, Galadima, Dakwo, Lokogoma, Wumba, Saraji, Kabusa, Okanji, Pyakasa, Nbora and Karma.

Phase 4 district, which is still being developed include Karsana, Sabon gida, Idu, Idogwari, Kaba, Kajini, Ketti, Shertti Cheche, Waru-Pouma, Gwari, Bude, Chafe, Jaite, Mamusa, Burum and Purfun.

Above all, there are suburban districts. These are districts that are not within the Federal Capital City, FCC, but because of their proximity to the FCC, have attracted some development, with thousands of those who work in the FCC residing there. These include Kubwa, Gwagawalada, Karu, Jikwoyi, Lugbe, Chika, Kuchigworo, Mpape and Dei-Dei.

Apart from tackling the problematic issue of land racketeering, the Abuja light rail and the Abuja-Kaduna railway projects (Lots 1A and 3) embarked upon by the incumbent FCT administration is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2015, which will transport a total of 700,000 passengers daily. While these projects are equally expected to create thousands of business opportunities, plans for mono-rail project have reached an advanced stage.

Provision of engineering infrastructure worth N61,194,747,645.00 through Public-Private-Partnership, PPP, for Katampe District is currently on-going, while that of Kagini 1 District is estimated at N52,609,879,284.47 and Maitama Extension District expected to gulp N23,650,000,000. These massive projects will provide 70,000kilometres of road network of diverse categories, including bridges, culverts, drainage systems, water, sewage, electricity and communication facilities.

To actualise this noble vision, the FCTA has entered into series of agreements with Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission, ICRC, which is a special agency of the Federal Government set up to boost investment in infrastructure by the private sector through PPP.

It is a well known fact that the concept of PPP in the provision of social infrastructure is all about leveraging  the capacity and the skill, nay efficiency, of the ‘’private sector to enhance delivery of social services such as education, health, shelter and security.’’

A lot has equally been achieved in the area of provision of potable water with the recent commissioning of completed work on Tanks 1 and 6 with 40,000 cubic centimeters storage capacity; reconstruction and expansion of the country’s most modern 10-lane multiple carriage way super-highways: the Umaru Musa Yar’adua (Airport Road) expressway; the Outer Northern (Murtala Mohammed) Expressway otherwise known as the Zuba/Kubwa/City Centre highway as well as the dualization of the Nyanya-Abuja Expressway.

In the same vein several major inter-changes at AYA; Banex-Jahi/Mabushi link; Gwarimpa 11 Junction-Kado/Life Camp Junction; Karmo/Utako have been completed and commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan.

To extend development to satellite towns, the administration, following the approval of the President, has re-established the FCT Satellite Towns Development Agency, STDA. With this agency as a handmaiden, the administration has extended its Midas touch to the satellite towns as epitomized in facelifts given to rural roads.

Above all, the most audacious policy of the FCT administration is the land swap policy premised at ceding lands to private investors in lieu of provision of critical infrastructure for Abuja city centre and adjoining districts and satellite towns. No doubt, if the current efforts are sustained, Abuja will certainly become one of the most developed capital cities in the world in the foreseeable future such as Kuje-Gwagwalada expansion road project; Gitata Bypass; Karshi-Apo Bypass; Gwagwalada-Dobi connection and Bwari Township roads and Sunrise- Guzape Bypass, etc.

Strenuous efforts of the administration has led to the attraction of over $20billion investments in Abuja; and in a drive to make the city the preferred investment destination in Africa, a 37-storey World Trade Centre, estimated at $1.2billion is being built at the Bakassi Market under PPP arrangement with Churchgate Group. The project has already offered jobs to over 500 Nigerians, while the administration is mulling the idea of Abuja Town Centre valued at $2.7billion with Chikason Group, which is expected to bequeath a world-class business district comparable to Manhattan in New York.

Similarly, the single biggest private sector investment, the Abuja Millennium City project, which is envisioned as business, leisure and tourism destination and estimated at $18billion is on, while the FCTA has sealed a PPP initiative with COHART Group worth $150million for the development of Abuja Film Village International (AFVI) to be established in Kuje Area Council.

And that is not all as massive construction of drainages, culverts and sewages are on-going, while investors are already investing in Botanical Garden and Parks, which is expected to rake in over $700m. In the same vein, there is an agreement with the Balkan Group worth $2.6million for the development of Abuja Boulevard covering 18 hectares of land in the Central Business District of the capital city.

Above all, the most audacious policy of the FCT Administration is the land swap policy premised at ceding lands to private investors in lieu of provision of critical infrastructure for Abuja city centre and adjoining districts and satellite towns. Now doubt, if the current efforts are sustained, Abuja will certainly become one of the most developed capital cities in the world in the foreseeable future.

Mr. Rogers Ochela,  wrote from Abuja.


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